Rep. Quentin “Q” Williams, D-Middletown, and the wrong-way driver charged in the crash that claimed their lives in January were both legally drunk, officials familiar with the state police toxicology report said Tuesday.
Anticipating the upcoming release of the police report, House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, told House Democrats in a closed-door meeting to brace themselves for the news that their colleague was intoxicated the night he died .
“It kind of brings up a lot of emotion just to revisit the tragedy. It goes without saying that everybody has to follow the law, obviously,” Ritter said after the meeting. “But it in no way diminishes the way we feel about him, his legacy.”
State police have not yet released the completed report, but a portion shown to the CT Mirror states that the “causative factor” in the accident was Kimede Katie Mustafaj driving northbound in the southbound lane of Route 9.
[RELATED: Rep. Quentin Williams killed in crash with wrong-way driver]
Ritter said he didn’t want his group to read about the toxicology report on social media, where the news could be met with criticism.
“We understand that there are people who may have comments to the contrary,” Ritter said. “But I can tell you he was an amazing man. He did a lot for the state of Connecticut. And that’s how we’ll remember it.”
Williams’ desk and empty chair stand in the well of the House, a memorial that will remain throughout the session. Flowers and a copy of the House calendar for the day are placed on it.
Williams, 39, and Mustafai, 27, from Manchester, were pronounced dead at the scene of their fiery crash in Cromwell. State police previously said Mustafaj was driving the wrong way on Route 9 and was several miles away before the collision.
The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled that Williams and Mustafai died of blunt force trauma to the head and torso. The death has been ruled accidental pending the results of toxicology tests.
Williams was attending the governor’s inaugural ball in Hartford and was returning to Middletown at the time of the crash. He was sworn in for his third term just hours before, on the first day of the General Assembly session.
Williams was driving an Infiniti Q60 in the far left lane southbound on Route 9 near Exit 18 when the crash occurred at about 12:45 a.m.
Mustafai was driving a Toyota Corolla northbound in the southbound lane and collided head-on with the car Williams was driving, according to a previously released state police accident report.
The collision caused Williams’ car to burst into flames as it came to rest on the left shoulder. The Toyota stopped in the center of the median.
After Williams’ death, the Legislature held public hearings on how to combat the number of deaths and pedestrians killed by cars on state roads in the past few years.
According to DOT statistics, 2022 was the deadliest year on Connecticut roads in decades. An estimated 231 drivers and passengers were killed in motor vehicle crashes, and another 75 people who were on foot or on bicycles were also killed in collisions.
DOT Commissioner Garrett Yucalito told lawmakers that Connecticut needs to act to make the state’s roads safer.
Eucalitto testified that in 2022 there were 13 wrong-way crashes that claimed 23 lives.
He called on lawmakers to lower the legal blood alcohol level for drivers in Connecticut as one way to combat the increase in fatalities.
“Quite frankly, Connecticut has a drunk driving problem,” Eucalito said. “We’re one of the most serious states in the nation.”
Connecticut law considers a driver legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. But Eucalitto encouraged lawmakers to pass another bill — SB 1082 — that would lower the blood-alcohol concentration to 0.05 percent, a level that only one other state, Utah, has imposed.
A few nights after the crash, hundreds of people gathered on the South Green in Middletown to honor Williams’ memory.
[RELATED: Hundreds gather at vigil for CT Rep. Quentin Williams]
Leaders of the Legislature’s Black and Puerto Rican Caucus remembered Middletown’s first black representative as “a pioneer who fought for equality and was committed to creating learning opportunities in all communities.”
Governor Ned Lamont flew state flags to half-staff in honor of Williams. The state capitol closed for the rest of the week.
Williams graduated from Middletown Public Schools, has a business degree from Bryant University and a master’s degree in public administration from Villanova.
He first served in the General Assembly during the 2019 session. He co-chaired the Committee on Aging at the start of the 2021-22 session, then took over as co-chair of the Housing Committee. This year he was to take the post of head of the Commission on Labor and Employees.